Skip to comments.Observers Rush to Judgment in Caracas - Jimmy Carter might have at least counted a few ballots
Posted on 08/21/2004 5:14:43 AM PDT by Elle Bee
Observers Rush to Judgment in Caracas
Jimmy Carter might have at least counted a few ballots.
By MARY ANASTASIA O'GRADY
August 20, 2004; Page A13
When Jimmy Carter went to Cuba in 2002, Fidel reveled in the photo-ops with a former U.S. president. Mr. Carter seemed to think he was heroically "engaging" the Cuban despot. But in the documentary "Dissident," celluloid captures something most Americans didn't see: Castro giggling sardonically as Mr. Carter lectures the Cuban politburo on democracy. That foreshadowed what happened when the media splash ended and the Nobel laureate went home: Dissidents he went to "help" today languish in gulag punishment cells.
I was reminded this week of how Castro so artfully used Mr. Carter when ;vez took a page from his Cuban mentor's playbook. On Monday, the Carter Center along with the head of the monumentally meaningless Organization of American States, Cesar Gaviria, endorsed Chávez's claims of victory in the Venezuelan recall referendum, rather too hastily it now seems.
The problem was that the "observers" hadn't actually observed the election results. Messrs. Carter and Gaviria were only allowed to make a "quick count," that is look at the tally sheets spat out by a sample of voting machines. They were not allowed to check this against ballots the machines issued to voters as confirmation that their votes were properly registered.
If there was fraud, as many Venezuelans now suspect, it could have been discovered if the ballots didn't match the computer tallies. The tallies alone were meaningless. The problem was clear by Tuesday but it didn't stop the State Department spokesman Adam Ereli from chiming in. "The people of Venezuela have spoken," he proclaimed.
Mr. Carter marveled at the huge turnout on Sunday. Venezuelans, who have been voting two-to-one against Chávez in opinion polls, waited in absurdly long lines to cast more meaningful votes on electronic machines. But did the machine really record the vote as registered on the paper ballot?
According to experts, it is relatively simple to tamper with encryption codes in electronic voting machines. American Enterprise Institute resident scholar John Lott says, "You can easily write a program that tells the voting machine to record something different in its memory than what it prints out on the receipt that is to be dropped in the ballot box."
To rely on the tally sheets alone, as Messrs. Carter and Gaviria did, is to abdicate the heavy responsibility an observer accepts when overseeing an election. A Venezuelan who is a former U.N. deputy high commissioner of human rights wrote of his suspicions in yesterday's International Herald Tribune (right beside a pro-Chávez New York Times editorial, by the way). Enrique ter Horst cited as cause for concern the fact that "the papers the new machines produced . . . were not added up and compared with the final numbers these machines produce at the end of the voting process, as the voting-machine manufacturer had suggested."
An exit poll done by the prominent U.S. polling firm of Penn, Schoen and Berland Associates showed 59% of voters opposed to Chávez and only 41% in favor. (Messrs. Penn and Schoen both worked for Bill Clinton in his 1996 re-election bid.) Raj Kumar, a principal at the polling firm, told me yesterday that the firm has gone back to try to explain the 34-point spread between the PSB poll and the results announced by the government. "While there are certainly biases that can impact any exit poll, we do not see any factor that could account for such a significant difference," he said.
At three o'clock on Monday morning two members of the National Electoral Council (CNE) who are politically opposed to Chávez announced that they had been shut out of the audit process and warned the public that the established protocol had been violated. Some 50 minutes later pro-Chávez CNE member Francisco Carrasquero emerged alone to proclaim Chávez the winner.
There is much to question. Mr. ter Horst cites one example: "In the town of Valle de la Pascua, where papers were counted at the initiative of those manning the voting center, the "Yes" vote had been cut by more than 75%, and the entire voting material was seized by the national guard shortly after the difference was established." "Yes" was a vote to remove Chávez.
There is also a reasonable accusation that the number of "Yes" votes at some polling stations was "capped" by software tampering. The charge is supported by the discovery, in some locations, of two or three machines recording the exact same number of "Yes" votes and substantially more "No" votes. The opposition is claiming that it has proof that this occurred at 500 polling stations. Again, if Mr. Carter and the OAS observers had demanded an open auditing process instead of blindly endorsing government claims, cheating would have been uncovered. But Chávez refused open audits and the observers went along with him.
In the desperate attempt to divert attention from observer negligence, few have been as ardent as Mr. Gaviria, who is flailing about in the waters he helped muddy. He has no idea whether there was fraud because he never conducted an audit. So now he floats the idea that the whole problem is that the PSB exit poll was flawed. Yeah, right.
The CNE is now engaged in a minimal audit with Mr. Carter and the OAS. But the opposition has wisely refused to participate on the grounds that the ballot boxes and the machines have been in Chávez control since Sunday and based on what is already known, further tampering can't be ruled out. As of yet there has not been an agreement on how to conduct a fair audit.
Chávez has already said that his "victory" cannot be reversed. To underscore that point on Tuesday, a pro-Chávez gang opened fire on a group protesting that the referendum had been rigged, killing one woman and injuring others.
There is some speculation that Messrs. Carter and Gaviria threw a veil over a gross deception on the grounds that it will prevent further violence. But Americans have a right to expect a sterner approach from the administration of George W. Bush. State's endorsement of this referendum without a fair audit is a sorry betrayal of not only the Venezuelan people but American ideals. It is tantamount to yielding to terrorism. Observing Washington's supine reaction, Chávez will not hesitate to escalate his efforts to restore authoritarianism on the South American continent.
The Florida Fiasco of 2000, with hanging chads, butterfly ballots and Supreme Court intervention, forced Americans to confront an ugly reality. The U.S. has the sloppiest election systems of any industrialized nation, so sloppy that at least eight of the 19 hijackers who attacked the World Trade Center and the Pentagon were actually able to register to vote in either Virginia or Florida while they made their deadly preparations for 9/11.
In Stealing Elections, John Fund takes the reader on a national tour of voter fraud scandals ranging from rural states like Texas and Mississippi to big cities such as Philadelphia and Milwaukee. He explores dark episodes such as the way "vote brokers" stole a mayoral election in Miami in 1998 by tampering with 4700 absentee ballots. He shows how, in the aftermath of the Motor Voter Law of 1993, Californians used mail-in forms to get absentee ballots for fictitious people and pets, while in St. Louis it was discovered that voter rolls included 13,000 more names than the U.S. Census listed as the total number of adults in the city.
Election officials try to reassure voters by turning to computerized voting machines. But Fund shows that with the new technology come even greater concerns. Early in 2004, for instance, the state of Maryland, which has 16,000 new Diebold machines, commissioned a security expert to try to rig a practice election. He and his team broke into the computer at the State Board of Elections, completely changed the outcome of the election, left, and erased their electronic trailall in under five minutes.
Stealing Elections gives us a chilling portrait of our electoral vulnerabilityin the 2004 presidential election and on into the future. Writing with urgency and authority, John Fund shows how a lethal combination of bureaucratic bungling and ballot rigging have put our democracy at risk.
John Fund is a member of the Wall Street Journal's editorial board and writes the paper's daily Political Diary. He has written on voter fraud and election irregularities for the last decade in the Wall Street Journal, New Republic, American Spectator and other publications. In the past year, Fund has made over 90 appearances on Fox News, MSNBC, C-Span, and CNBC.
Jimmy Carter might have at least counted a few ballots
By Mary Anastasia O'Grady
Carter wanted the regime to win because they are anti-American.
"Dissidents he went to "help" today languish in gulag punishment cells"
Carter's an egomaniacal idiot who should be banned from any foreign intervention. One look at the GREAT job he did in Iran, which is at the core of our problems today, is enough to explain why.
Vote-Counting Rule Number One: When you've got the result you want, stop counting.
Copied & saved- thanks!
& on FR:
Carter's mangling of the hostage crisis probably emboldened every terrorist wannabe on the planet, and we have been at risk ever since.
"To rely on the tally sheets alone, as Messrs. Carter and Gaviria did, is to abdicate the heavy responsibility an observer accepts when overseeing an election."
This assumes that Carter actually was interested in a free and fair election, which he was not. Carter has done so many things that are diametrically opposed to this country's interests, I have serious doubts about his allegiences. He should never have accepted the Nobel Peace Prize when it was made clear that it was a slap at a sitting president, and I don't care who it was at the time.
I no longer have any doubts at all. He is part of The Enemy Within and he has oceans of innocent blood on his hands with more to come from this latest obscenity. He is deeply evil.
What exactly does Carter DO when he supposedly supervises the foreign elections.......sip green tea w/dignitaries, stand around and grin....what?
Not evil. Stupid. Childishly naive. He probably kneels by his bed every night to say his prayers.
He would have rejected the Nobel prize if he'd had an ounce of maturity and/or integrity. His historical reputation will be blemished by it.
He lobbied 20 years for the Peace Prize. Now he's running for sainthood. I sure hope he gets it.
Here's how I look at it. When you're playing tennis with friends, you get some bad calls because people make mistakes. If some of the mistakes are in their favor and some in your favor, they're really just mistakes. If it's all in their favor, they're cheating.
In looking back on both Carter's and the Clintons' "achievements", I don't see much--if anything--that was helpful to our country. I see plenty that damaged our country. When it's all one way all the time, it's NOT accidental, coincidental, or innocent. IMO.
Sure, there are Cubans rotting in prisons because of Jimmy Carter and their belief that Carter was there to help. But, Carter now feels better, much better, about himself and, after all, isn't that what being a liberal is all about, feeling better about yourself?